West Indian Day Parade marches through Brooklyn

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The annual West Indian Day parade marched through Brooklyn Monday, but the day of celebrations got off to a violent start with two people killed and four hurt at the J'ouvert festival.

More than a million people were expected to line the streets for the Labor Day tradition.

"What does this festival mean to you?," we asked photographer Louis Mendes. "Celebrating the blackness of those who came from Africa," he said.

And so began a day of celebrating Caribbean culture.

"I've been in this country since 1973. And I'm a proud Jamaican. Of course in Kingston, Raytown. Yes!"," said East Orange resident Yvette Warren Hayes.

The music and food, and all things West Indian were being served up along the Eastern Parkway promenade, as the annual parade was set to begin.

"We're from Denmark. The four of us. We have just read about this parade so we thought we would come out here to see it so we planned this day," said Danish tourist Birger Peterson.

Spectators were in formation on the parade route, ready for the spectacular show.

"The show part of it. That all the costumes and so on," said Peterson.

"This is my third time being here. I'm looking forward to the floats. And the extensive time they took in making these floats. They're just gorgeous. And the size of this parade. It's just breathtaking," said Hayes.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a slew of other state and city officials are among the marchers in Brooklyn. Onlookers have crowded along the parade route, carrying the flags of the different Caribbean nations.

Police presence has been significant at the parade and the pre-dawn festival that precedes it, J'ouvert, both of which have been marred by violence.

J'ouvert brings an estimated 250,000 people to the streets, and the parade attracts more than 1 million. The route goes through a major Brooklyn roadway, in neighborhoods that have a strong Caribbean presence.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.